AMG’S RACE-READY ROAD ROCKET
MERCEDES-AMG GT R
IT MAY WELL BE THE MOST INTIMIDATING SIGHT (BESIDES A POLICE CRUISER WITH FLASHING BLUE LIGHTS) YOU CAN IMAGINE – WATCHING IN YOUR REARVIEW MIRROR AS A NEW MERCEDES-AMG GT R CLOSES IN ON YOUR REAR BUMPER, COERCING YOU TO MOVE OUT OF THE WAY. YES, THE R IS REALLY MEAN LOOKING FROM THE FRONT; MORE MENACING THAN A BRAWNY DODGE VIPER GTS, RIDICULING THE SNEER OF AN ASTON MARTIN VULCAN AND EVEN BELITTLING THE OMINOUS LAMBORGHINI VENENO’S DARTH VADER IMITATION, AS FERDI DE VOS RECENTLY DISCOVERED.
Augmented by the downturned edges of its gaping air intake and 15 chrome-plated vertical grille slats that would have pleased Toy Story’s Evil Emperor Zurg, the GT R will do well in a remake of Stephen King’s car horror movie, Christine.
Mercedes-AMG labels the imposing and cavernous intake the “Panamericana” grille, yet, in fact, it originated more than a decade before the carmaker’s improbable victory in the 1952 edition of the infamous Mexican road race…
The aggressive face that distinguishes the most powerful Mercedes-AMG Coupé from its lesser GT peers already adorned the hugely successful W154 Silver Arrows GP cars (and the super-rare W165 voiturette class racers) in 1939.
Designed and engineered by Rudolf Uhlenhaut and Max Wagner to cool the V12s of the all-conquering W154s sufficiently, the air intake was progressively broadened, culminating in an ovoid shape with vertical slats.
This elliptical form was carried over to the newly developed W194 300 SL sports racers in 1952, which in the same year scored overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in BernBremgarten, in the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring and in the Carrera Panamericana. These successes led to the development of the iconic 300 SL Gullwing Coupé, introduced in 1955.
Uhlenhaut and Wagner’s celebrated grille designs inspired virtually all future renditions of the SL-Class, and with the new Mercedes-AMG GT family Robert Lesnik and his design team brought this tradition full circle.
Appositely, and referencing the W194’s racing roots, the R-version – effectively the road-going version of the AMG GT3 and GT4 racing cars – received this striking angry face treatment first.
FUNCTION AND FORM
With development largely based on experience in GT3 customer racing and in the German Touring Car Masters series, the GT R retains the key mechanical differences that the updated GT C variant gained over the GT S, but also features pioneering technologies.
Besides an extensively modified suspension, new aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight construction, power of the R version’s M178 4.0-litre twinturbo V8 engine has been bumped up to 430 kW, with a massive 700 Nm of torque available from 1,900 r/min. This is enough to propel the GT R from zero to 100 in a blistering 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 318 km/h.
AMG’s “Dynamic Presence” design idiom forms the basis for the R’s expressive and distinct look; form follows function, but function also supports form, with all design elements having inherent technical benefit.
To wit; the low-slung shark nose is designed to lower the vehicle’s backpressure point, two horizontal fins in the large jet-like outer air intakes route airflow to the radiators, the front splitter reduces lift at the front axle, and additional Air Curtains calm the airflow, improving the GT R’s drag coefficient to a lower Cd value than the AMG GT.
An active air management system, with electronically controlled vertical louvres (normally closed but opened when the heat exchangers need cooling air), improve airflow and consequently aerodynamic performance.
The super-light carbon front wings add 46 mm to the width of the GT R up front, and aluminium sidewalls widen the rear by 57 mm, creating space for the large 20-inch wheels and wider track to improve traction and allow higher cornering speeds.
A double diffuser, large outer vent openings and vertical swaging improves airflow at the rear, a small air outlet between the tail lamps for additional heat dissipation, while the large centrallypositioned exhaust tip with centre spar is flanked by two more in the diffuser.
Ah, and then there is that imposing wing, rigidly mounted at the rear and with manually adjustable blade angle to manage the amount of downforce on the rear axle.
The result of all these combined aerodynamic measures? Well, according to Mercedes-AMG it increases the surface contact at top speed by 155 kg compared to the GT.
READY TO RACE
One immediately notices five things when you lower yourself into the figure-hugging AMG sport bucket seat, upholstered in Nappa leather with yellow stitching and yellow seat belts: The full roll cage that embraces the interior; the flatrimmed suede-covered steering wheel; the prominent red-needled instrument dials with yellow highlights; the bright yellow centrally positioned rotary switch for the traction control settings; and the NACA duct-shaped centre console with the controls arranged like eight cylinders in a V layout…
While well appointed, the cockpit of the GT R has serious racing intent, emphasised by the loss of luxury items such as the integrated garage-door opener, heated and power-folding side mirrors, and the use of a quite basic audio system.